Hockey is an important part of the culture of Minnesota. Coach Herb Brooks, the man who brought the 1980 U.S Olympic Hockey team to a nearly impossible victory against the then-Soviet Union, is Minnesota’s own version of Vince Lombardi in some aspects. But hockey isn’t just a sport for men anymore.
The St. Kate’s Wildcats hockey season has become something of a roller coaster that only goes up. Despite their opening day loss to the College of St. Benedict (CSB), the Wildcats have risen above and beyond to deliver an overwhelmingly positive start to their Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) competitions this year.
“We have 23 student-athletes who work hard on and off the ice to improve not only as individuals, but as a team. They understand that we all need each other to believe and work towards the same goals,” said Brad Marshall, Head Hockey Coach. “This seems to be the tightest group of girls we’ve had in a while. Everybody gets along and has expectations of each player doing their best each day to push each other and make the team better as a whole.”
And the Wildcats keep on delivering. After their first game against CSB, St. Kate’s played a spectacular game against the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, managing to score big during a power play in the third period.
To start the game, Megan Kilmer ’15 and Alex Pederson ’18 put the team in the lead with one point a piece by the second period, but Eau Claire cut their lead in half when they scored in the third period. When the power play went into effect, the Wildcats came back, with Kilmer netting her second goal of the night and Annie Buttermore ’16 bringing in a second power play point to wrap up the game.
“I’m really excited to see how far we can push ourselves in our upcoming games,” said Jordan Solheim ’17. “It always takes a few games to get comfortable playing with incoming players and I think we are getting there! It’s going to depend on the consistency of our team as a whole for the rest of the season to go well.”
And that’s not the end of it. The Wildcat’s first game of MIAC play pitted them against Hamline University, but the Wildcats once again proved their might by taking down the Pipers 3-1. It was Kilmer who shot the game-winning goal for the Wildcats, with Pederson adding her own goal for extra security.
More recently, the Wildcats saw Hamline on their home ice rink at St. Paul Academy on Nov. 15th. In that instance, the Wildcats settled for a 1-1 tie, with the only Wildcat goal scored by Kilmer in the first period.
“With each new season we get the chance to reestablish ourselves to our opponents; we are never the same team.” Kilmer said. “We have been working hard in the offseason and that hard work has carried over into the season. We have a great group of girls this year and so far we seem to be clicking. I think that if we continue to build off of the past two weekends, we will really have a chance to do something special this season.”
St. Kate’s students have the chance to see the Wildcats play against St. Mary’s University at home on Dec. 5th at 7 p.m. For more information on upcoming games and to learn more about the Wildcats, visit the team’s page on the Butler Center website.